In the early 20th Century, six-day bike races were some of the biggest sporting events in the U.S.—not to mention grueling and dangerous:
In the four corners of the old Chicago Stadium, faux-Greek sculptures depicted the premier indoor athletes of the day: a boxer, a track runner, a hockey player, and a bicyclist. Though outdoor road races were king at the turn of the century, promoters figured out that track racing on a wooden, banked, 1/6-mile oval could sell more tickets. Instead of watching the competitors whiz by once from the side of a street, people could pack into arenas and see them run thousands of laps.
“The Bell-Lappers.” — Rob Mitchum, The Classical